Infiniti QX50 SUV (2013-2016)
"The Infiniti QX50 is an edgy compact SUV that offers something a little different."
- Upmarket badge
- Practical interior
- Generous standard equipment
- Tight rear legroom
- Not very exciting to drive
- Lack of driving position adjustability
Nissan's premium brand Infiniti has struggled to make significant inroads in the UK, regardless of the fact that it positions itself as 'the Japanese BMW' in the US. We don't think the Infiniti QX50 (previously the Infiniti EX) is really going to help its cause, though. The QX50 falls into the small-yet-versatile crossover class, but its hefty price isn't really backed up by what you get for your money.
The coupe-like styling and raised ride height certainly give it road presence, but also a confusing identity. There are two engines available: a 3.0-litre diesel and a more powerful 3.7-litre V6 petrol from the Nissan 370Z sports car. Both offer performance in line with Infiniti's image, but their high CO2 emissions and poor fuel economy issues mean the QX50 is destined to remain a niche model. The likes of the BMW X3 currently offer a much cleaner, faster and more enjoyable driving experience.
The QX50 comes in three main specifications: the standard entry-level car, the mid-range GT and the top-of-the-range GT Premium.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If you care about running costs, then this Infiniti isn't the car for you. Even the diesel disappoints, with miserly 33.2mpg fuel economy and dreadful CO2 emissions of 224g/km, for £290-a-year road tax. Compare that to the BMW X3 3.0-litre diesel, which emits 159g/km of CO2. Put simply, whichever model of QX50 you choose, running costs will be considerably higher than for similarly priced rivals.
Engines, drive & performance
In truth, the QX50's driving experience is somewhat confusing. Combining Infiniti's signature sporty drive with a high-riding body means it's neither one thing nor the other. The steering isn't responsive enough and doesn't give enough feedback.
We'd like to see more fun for the driver (especially when you consider the car's price and premium brand) as well as a more comfortable ride. There's no doubting the performance of the 316bhp 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine (0-62mph takes 6.4 seconds), but the diesel is a better everyday choice.
Interior & comfort
Infiniti is trying to match the quality of German competitors like BMW, but the QX50's interior doesn't quite come up to their standards. It's certainly comfortable and decently equipped, but some components are clearly carried over from Nissans and so seem too cheap for a car of this price.
There also isn't enough adjustment in the driving position to allow everyone to get truly comfortable. The raised seating position does make the QX50 feel roomy, however – even its interior space is only about on par with a Volkswagen Golf's.
Practicality & boot space
The QX50 is an SUV in looks, but not in practicality. It's more of a baby 4x4, with all the problems that implies. Rear head and legroom is very tight, the driving position is cramped, the seat can't be lowered far enough and the steering wheel's reach and rake adjustment is too limited.
The boot only offers a tiny 340-litre capacity with the back seats in place, which is well short of the BMW X3's 550 litres. In fact, the QX50 is even beaten by the smaller BMW X1 in this department. If you lower the split-folding rear seats, that capacity expands to 1,170 litres, which is still off the pace of the Infiniti's rivals by as much as 400 litres. The back seats do raise and lower electrically, though – just one of several neat touches on offer.
Reliability & safety
Infinitis are still pretty rare on UK roads, so it's hardly surprising that none turned up in our Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction survey. Parent compay Nissan's record and reputation is the best gauge of how reliable any Infiniti will be – and it's generally pretty good.
Interestingly, after a good few years of superb top-five showings in the Driver Power manufacturer rankings, Nissan took an eight-place tumble in 2013 from its 2012 fourth place, so customers aren't quite as ecstatic as they used to be. However, the QX50 should still prove solid and dependable. There are still only 12 Infiniti dealerships in the UK, but whether it's an unexpected problem or routine maintenance, Infiniti will collect your car and deliver it back to you.
The QX50 comes with a range of airbags, electronic stability control and safety gadgets such as automatic headlights, automatic wipers and lane-departure warning, so it should be very safe indeed. It hasn't been independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP, however.
Price, value for money & options
Because Infiniti is Nissan's luxury brand, you get a lot of equipment and accessories as standard with the QX50. But other areas don't live up to the intimidating price tag, including the frankly underwhelming quality of the plastic trim. Plus, even though QX50s are rare, their resale value on the used car market isn't good. So don't expect a substantial return when you come to sell it on second-hand.